Now that lockdown is easing, my period of sojourn is coming to an end. Schools start back soon and so I’ll be back at work full-time. Back to getting up at 6am, making packed lunches before breakfast and tea as soon as I get home. There’ll be homework to supervise and chores to do, followed by trying to stay awake long enough to watch my favourite TV programmes. Weekends are not much better, ferrying children to various things while rushing through the housework, with a strict regime of dark load followed by light load to get the school uniforms washed and ironed before Monday morning. It’s not just the hours at work that get eaten away. No wonder there is precious little time for writing left after everything else.
I was lucky to have had so many years of not having to work, and in that time, I got three novels published on KDP. But since then, it’s not been so easy. It’s hard to think abut writing at the same time as working and looking after a family. Lockdown was an unexpected gift, and I grabbed it with both hands. Writing all day and still being paid, it was my dream. It always has been. I write because I love doing it, but to be published, that’s always been my ambition, even when I was very young. I always imagined I would be – you don’t write hundreds of thousands of words without the hope that they will be published someday. I assumed it would only be a matter of time. Yes, there would be rejections, but one day, there would an actual offer and a deal. But rejections are painful. The first time it happened, I wept and wept. And it was horrible every time after that. I very quickly lost all enthusiasm for submitting, and then, eventually, I just gave up completely. The pain of being rejected was ruining the pleasure of the writing itself. I know that’s pathetic, and that it takes resilience and commitment to get published, but it didn’t seem fair that it should be harder than writing the novels in the first place. So I settled for KDP and thought I was satisfied with that. But lockdown has taught that me that I was wrong. I love writing so much that I want to do it all the time, and for that to happen, I need to make money from it. But if I never submit, that’s never going to happen. There is no fairy godmother or magic genie looking for obscure writers on KDP or reading hopeful blogs by aspiring authors. If I want to get noticed, I have to start putting myself out there again. It’s time to start submitting again.
I’m a bit out of practice. Last time I did this, I had a copy of The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and a few printed copies of the manuscripts. Packages went back and forth through the post. Now it’s all on-line and you can even make submissions by Tweet! I have to get my head around it but I’m hoping that some things will be easier. Besides the wonders of modern technology, I have five novels under my belt, and this website and this blog as evidence of how serious I am. But it’s not just the logistics that make it difficult. I’m just not very good at selling myself. I pride myself on being a private person, but in truth, I’m just too embarrassed to talk about myself unless someone else brings the subject up. I can write this blog, but I find almost impossible to talk to people about my writing. Obviously, my family and close friends know, but not many others. I remember the conscious decision I made to reveal my secret when I worked in the bookshop, but in that environment, it sort of seemed natural. I don’t feel it’s something I can do in my current workplace, even though it would make sense to introduce my work to a new and wider audience. Instead, I fantasize about having to reveal it when a publishing deal is sealed and my novel is about to hit the shops; “Oh, by the way, I have a book coming out next week!” I can even imagine the article in the local newspaper – SCHOOL TA IS NEW BESTSELLER. There are no heights that my imagination can’t reach.
However, all this is just fantasy if I don’t take some action. Time to grit my teeth and face the pain of submitting once more. I just have to keep reminding myself how good I am being a full-time writer.